November 1st, 2008
06:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama aide: Timing of news about his aunt 'suspicious'

Obama aide David Axelrod, pictured here at a Pennsylvania campaign office earlier this week, called the release of information about Sen. Obama's aunt 'suspicious.'
Obama aide David Axelrod, pictured here at a Pennsylvania campaign office earlier this week, called the release of information about Sen. Obama's aunt 'suspicious.'

(CNN) - Barack Obama’s chief strategist said Saturday that he thought the last-minute appearance of stories like this weekend’s news that the Illinois senator’s aunt may be living in the country illegally would make people “suspicious.”

The Associated Press has reported that Zeituni Onyango, a native of Kenya, has been living in Boston despite losing an appeal for asylum four years ago. Obama’s campaign issued a statement earlier Saturday that the Democratic nominee “has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws should be followed." The campaign also said it would return $265 in donations from Onyango, who is not legally permitted to donate to Obama because she is not a U.S. citizen.

CNN has been unable to independently verify the aunt's immigration status.

On the campaign trail in Nevada, Axelrod said the timing of the report might raise a few eyebrows. "The campaign issued a statement on that," he said. "And I don't have anything more to add to it, other than I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a national campaign... I think that they're going to take that, they're going to put it in that context."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan questioned both the timing and the source of the news Saturday, sending a public letter to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff requesting an investigation.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra
soundoff (1,449 Responses)
  1. e forest

    I had call from friend in Seattle ,he says a rumour has been floating around that Rove fixed the election months ago, thats why Mc cain is expecting an upset. Thats why National guard is being called out on election day ,they expect riots , is there any truth to this or just rumour
    nothing would surprise me.

    November 1, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. joe the leaf blower

    mccain in 'O8!...1908.

    November 1, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. Sharon

    If anyone is needing to get away from all the Obama TROLLING on these PoliticalTicker sites and enjoy a breath of FRESH AIR, take a stroll down the HillBuzz.com site. Yes, Hillary Clinton voters are uniting with McCain voters due to ACORN fraud!

    Seriously, people, consider the polls. Many polls are now showing a less than 5 point advantage for Obama (which, btw, is MUCH closer than even that)! So why are the comments on these CNN stories 20-1 in favor of Obama??? Huh? One answer...OBAMA TROLLING...

    HillBuzz.com has a pretty honest AND encouraging set of facts for McCain/Palin voters to peruse. You TROLLERS might enjoy a breath of fresh air, as well! :)

    November 1, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  4. Andy

    I'd like to see Obama's papers, or better yet his home videos of his dinner parties with his friends.

    November 1, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. Sally

    She is in the US illegally, his campaign DID accept her donations, and stating they will "pay her back" does NOT make the issue go away. DID he know where she was?? If not, why not, surely another relative would have contacted him regarding this, but perhaps it was too explosive for him to acknowledge. I never liked this man, have never trusted him. So, will Auntie be deported? how will that look? The President's Auntie put on a plane to Kenya? Or will she be allowed to stay? And just how would that look to the thousands of others who have been deported. I'm sorry Obama, this one wont go away, too bad you ever decided to run for President – you're about as untrustworthy as the Nigerian scam artists.

    I wanted Hillary to be President, but right now, vote McCain, not Hussein sounds like music to my ears.

    November 1, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. MEP

    What a coincidence!!!! Have you even verified the story yet? Is that how you verify– phoning someone with the same last name to ask them over the phone? How do you know who is going to answer the phone?

    Fortunately Cheney endorsed McCain today.
    Folks, time to adjust adjust your rear view mirrors.
    PS What about Sarah Palin's medical reports? Why not follow that up as well?

    November 1, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Sabrina

    Is this for real? Are all political candidates in you country supposed to check the facts of the lives past and present of every family member or person they relate or speak to? Then, your children are going to have a hard time dreaming of ever running for any political post! Americans, you are losing your credibility as intelligent people capable to chose a good overall person to run the most powerful country in the world. You are sinking your free will if you allow to be manipulated into these small-brained plots!

    November 1, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. donlova

    trying to change minds last minute b4 tues...it seems like someone high up with this info leaked it....maybe bush is usefull

    November 1, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. Ron from Baltimore

    It is no surprise that this type of tripe is being raised at the last moment. Just what the McCain-Palin campaign has been doing for several weeks.

    I guess I'm glad that the traditional Republican Party has such heartburn with Palin, in particular, and with McCain's "new" style.

    What has this country come to? Let's get ourselves back on track.

    PLEASE VOTE OBAMA-BIDEN

    November 1, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. e forest

    no need to print my previous comment ,i wouldnt want to make waves ,the talk of this rumour concerned me.

    November 1, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. Ken from Michigan

    OMG, well, not so much! What else does one expect from a GOP campaign that's lost every speck of credibility and respect for the truth. Stories like this always creep up out of nowhere. Mr. Axelrod is right.

    It doesn't change my vote what-so-ever. I'm still voting for O.

    November 1, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. Citizen AJ - Northern Virginia

    All I can say is if the Aunt told him she was legal and won her case to stay in the country, I am sure he believed his Aunt. If you have ever experienced poverty and no opportunity, you will SAY anything to get out of it. Look at the illegals who come into this country every year. They risk being caught at the border in order to have better opportunity. Not making excuses for his Aunt but I suspect that if you dug deeper, this would be the story. He, Senator Obama, is still the best choice for this country. We know it, the republicans know it and that is why they are campaigning so negatively against him.

    November 1, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. t

    OBAMA WOULD NOT TAKE THAT RISK/WHO CARE SHE NEED TO SUE THE BUSH ADMIN. FOR PUTTING IT OUT THER

    November 1, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. Voter

    I wonder who elses records the McCain camp looked into?

    The GOP is digusting.

    November 1, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. mel from ohio

    No one really cares about his Aunt's status. She doesn't impact the election AT ALL!!! It is suspicious timing though and smells of Republican desperation.

    November 1, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. leon

    McCain and palin could not get any lower, this is a act of deperation
    on the part of the McCain camp. they are showing how bad this country need a change. Being a american hero got him no where,
    so he's trying on the coat of a american lier, and coward.
    keep him out of the white houes. If this is what people want as our
    president then where domed .
    Please vote for a real leader VOTE OBAMA.

    November 1, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  17. Truth to People

    Consider disbanding the Dept of Homeland Security

    Mainly because its a "Secret Police" organization that is beholden to Bush/Cheney Repubs......

    Its an organization that operates OUTSIDE the structure of the law and is accountable to no one (this is incredibly dangerous)

    Its purpose is to specifically promote the neo-con agenda, circumventing the laws of the land, effectivley using the "veil" of the "War on Terrorism ....or the War on Drugs, ................the War on a Free Press, the War on Americans who seek transparency or the War on anyone who's not part of the ultimate plan for control"

    Homeland Security = Nazi SS

    (because you too, can be swept off the street and held captive for no reason whatsoever)

    November 1, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. tek from IN

    Right on!

    November 1, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    It is the same old GOP dirty tricks capaign of hate, intolerance, bigotry, and lies.

    November 1, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  20. Richard in PA

    This is as relevant as reporting on Joe McCain's (John's brother) calling 911 to complain about traffic.

    Let's concentrate on the issues people.

    November 1, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  21. sharon walker

    DEAR FRIENDS:
    HURRAY FOR THE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA!

    LOOK UP BIOTECHACCIDENT.COM, NANOTECHACCIDENT, NANOTECH AND BIOTECH. VANOTECH. NOW THINK OF SEEDING CANCER RAIN AND ANYOTHER SMALL TEENY TINY MINUTE PARTICLE, DISEASE, CHEMICAL WARFARE!
    THIS IS WHAT WAS USED BY HUSSEIN AGAINST THE IRAQI PEOPLE. THE UNSEEN! IT IS ALSO IN YOUR MIND AS IN OBAMA! A BOOK THAT SAID IT AT THE SAME TIME OSAMA BIN LADEN WAS IN HARVARD. IT IS ALSO WHY THE PRESIDENT GEORGE W BUSH JR. IS SO ADDIMENT AND THE REPUBLICANS AND JOHN MCCAIN. THE SUMMIT!
    RACE AND RUN AND SCREAM AND SHOUT TO THE PUBLIC, UNIVERSITIES FOR THIS IS THE RISK ALONG WITH SEEDED WEATHER AND OUR AIR, WATER, LAND AND LIFE ITSELF!
    GONE! GONE! GONE! SEND THIS TO THE WORLD!

    REPUBLICANS! VOTE FOR JOHN MCCAIN AND REPUBLICANS FOR FREEDOM, FOR LIFE, FOR LIBERTY, FOR THE ACTIVITY AND OUR MILITARY SUPPORT AGAINST THE AL QUIDA AND TERRORISM , FOR ALL GODS LITTLE CHILDREN!

    HURRY! LIFE, LIBERTY AND JUDICIAL SYSTEM. FREEDOM!

    Ladies of all kinds wear lipstick and thank God they can vote! Do it!
    For Republicans for John McCain. For all Gods Children!

    November 1, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  22. bill

    I guess we see the Republican party dirty tricks department raise its ugly head again. Looks like the Rove hires in the immigration department finally found something he could use.

    November 1, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. Kina, A Veteran in NYC

    i'm sorry, but that's no surprise to me...after all, we've all been waiting for the so called "October Surprise"...but Sen. McCain and Co should have known that ain't gonna help them, anyway...but they are too cynical to be civil and keep their dignity, and that's the sad part 'bout the McCain/Palin campaign...thankfully, we're a much better society than that, and that will show come Tuesday evening...

    Pls post this comment, MODERATOR...thanx...

    Obama/Biden 08

    Kina.

    November 1, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. Nannie Bouroughs

    Senator Oblama does NOT KNOW the immigration status of his aunt?

    AND, in spite of that, he returned the $265.00 donation to her because it is illegal for a non-citizen to contribute to a political campaign!

    WOW!

    Three days before the election and we are seeing more of Senator Oblama's CHANGE YOU CAN COUNT ON...

    November 1, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. sharon walker

    Dear Friends:
    Talk! No definition! What Change! Come on! From Freedom to a path of Communism? That is Obama! To Al Quida! That is Obama!

    DEAR FRIENDS:
    HURRAY FOR THE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA!

    LOOK UP BIOTECHACCIDENT.COM, NANOTECHACCIDENT, NANOTECH AND BIOTECH. VANOTECH. NOW THINK OF SEEDING CANCER RAIN AND ANYOTHER SMALL TEENY TINY MINUTE PARTICLE, DISEASE, CHEMICAL WARFARE!
    THIS IS WHAT WAS USED BY HUSSEIN AGAINST THE IRAQI PEOPLE. THE UNSEEN! IT IS ALSO IN YOUR MIND AS IN OBAMA! A BOOK THAT SAID IT AT THE SAME TIME OSAMA BIN LADEN WAS IN HARVARD. IT IS ALSO WHY THE PRESIDENT GEORGE W BUSH JR. IS SO ADDIMENT AND THE REPUBLICANS AND JOHN MCCAIN. THE SUMMIT!
    RACE AND RUN AND SCREAM AND SHOUT TO THE PUBLIC, UNIVERSITIES FOR THIS IS THE RISK ALONG WITH SEEDED WEATHER AND OUR AIR, WATER, LAND AND LIFE ITSELF!
    GONE! GONE! GONE! SEND THIS TO THE WORLD!

    REPUBLICANS! VOTE FOR JOHN MCCAIN AND REPUBLICANS FOR FREEDOM, FOR LIFE, FOR LIBERTY, FOR THE ACTIVITY AND OUR MILITARY SUPPORT AGAINST THE AL QUIDA AND TERRORISM , FOR ALL GODS LITTLE CHILDREN!

    HURRY! LIFE, LIBERTY AND JUDICIAL SYSTEM. FREEDOM!

    November 1, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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